David E. Smith at technopagan.org has created a patch to Xpdf that disables the security features. The patch (revised July 24, 2001) is available here. Mr. Smith writes: Patch xpdf (the diff is against 0.92 but should be easily adaptable to future version) and feed '--enable-antikick' to 'configure'. The patch is bigger than it should be; all but the bottom twenty lines or so are diffs to the 'configure' script itself. The name 'antikick' came from Harlan Ellison's 'Kick Net Piracy' campaign, btw. Ironically, I fully support him in this...
Hans Nieuwenhuis has contributed an Xpdf patch for version 0,93, also available at http://vzzbx.xs4all.nl/files/xpdf-0.93-ro-remove.patch . See his web page on the patch for more information. (Older 0,92 version here and here.) Mr. Nieuwenhuis writes that the difference between Mr. Smith's patch and his are that his does not disable printing protection, it only re-enables copy and paste. FreeBSD incorporates this patch into their xpdf port.
An anonymous correspondent has sent generic Xpdf patch instructions that work in versions 0.92 and 0.93 and should be easily adaptable to all future versions, and another anonymous reader sent in a patch file for xpdf 3.00. Yet another anonymous correspondent had a comment about printing protection.
Erik Hovland contributed this patch for XPDF version 3.02p12.Poppler is a PDF rendering library based on the Xpdf 3.0 code base. Eriv Hovland has this patch for poppler release 0.6.4.
The home page for Ghostscript is http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/
The sourceforge project page for Ghostscript is http://sourceforge.net/projects/ghostscript/
Also see the GNU
Geoffrey Keating's Encrypted PDFs page offers appropriate patches to Ghostcript for reading encrypted PDF files. For versions 4.01 and higher, use pdf_sec.ps
Kyler Laird's PDF utilities build on Geoffrey Keating's work. Laird offers a web form you can use to convert PDF files to Postscript, and a hack for turning on printing for encrypted PDF files. Thanks to reader Rashkae, who adds: "You can then do a pdf2ps and back again with ps2pdf to generate a clean, unencrypted, printable, PDF file."
Rusty Mase, a professional cryptanalyst, challenged Kyler Laird to crack a sample PDF file he supplied. To Mase's surprise, Laird did it. See if you can do it too.
An anonymous contributor tells how to Convert a printable Adobe eBook to an unprotected PDF file by following these simple steps.
The Access plug-in supplements the standard Acrobat and Reader display of PDF documents with an alternative view that supports screen-reading applications for Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT. This view presents the textual content of a PDF file in a separate window. The window contains the text in an approximated reading order. Standard Acrobat features, such as hypertext links, notes, bookmarks, sounds, and movies, are available in the Access view.
Once this is installed, press control + 4 to move to "TEXT" mode. This mode enables you to copy it to a text2speech program ... or wherever you want. I've tested it in Acrobat 4 and it works. You then press Control + e to move back to the standard viewing mode.
PDF 1.3 Encryption Explained, by Anonymous. Also see the official Adobe spec.
pdfdecrypt.pl, a Perl script to decrypt PDF files, by Anonymous.
Google search for "Adobe password recovery"
Putting A Lock On E-Books, MSNBC.com article (July 19, 2001) by Siva Vaidhyanathan.
Note: this web site is for discussion of purely technical information of interest to computer scientists and lawful content users. I am not interested in receiving rants about Adobe or the DMCA. Go to the Boycott Adobe site for that. RTMPE.txt file In 2009 Adobe used a DMCA takedown notice to SourceForge to suppress an open source implementation of a network protocol called RTMP. Here is the technical specification and the source code. More info is available here.
ElcomSoft has announced a new PDF password recovery tool. Details available at their web site and this article in Wired.
Defcon 9 (2001) presentation by Dmitri Sklyarov, "eBooks security - theory and practice", in HTML/GIF format, raw text format (no graphics), or PowerPoint original.
Summary of Sklyarov's results, by Bruce Perens.
Cryptome mirror of ElcomSoft's AEBPR (Advanced E-Book Processor) software version 2.2, which decrypts 25% of an E-book as a demonstration. Note: ElcomSoft is no longer distributing this software.
And Justice for Adobe, an article by Lisa Rein at O'Reilly Network Weblogs, nicely summarizes the case through July 2001.
Anonymous sources have confirmed that adding the following entry to the Windows registry will unlock the software so that it will decrypt 100% of a document: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Elcom\Advanced eBook Processor\Registration] "Code"="LEPR-T2K7-NA8Z-3DUE-EVDQS-TMPV-MBAUB".
From someone who has personally verified that this works: "Using this program I was able to convert a locked Adobe eBook to PDF format. I then purchased an ebook from Barnes&Noble only because I had a copy of AEBPR. I will not distribute copies of the unlocked PDF file, but I would not have purchased an ebook in the Adobe format when it is locked to an operating system on a single computer."
Problem report: "I downloaded the free trial version of AEBPR, then edited the registry as indicated in your "Adobe Remedies" site, and it worked beautifully on the free ebooks I had downloaded previously (using Adobe ebook Reader 2.1). I then bought an ebook; however, it was necessary to update to Adobe ebook reader 2.2. Unfortunately, the attempt to decrypt the new ebook resulted in the error, "Bad data in the son.dat. Error 2." Then, "No EBX books available."
AEBPR son.dat Problem
The old fix to the son.dat problem, sent in by an anonymous reader, was as follows: "Don't use the current version of eBookReaderInstall.exe (size: 10,621,400 bytes or 10372 KB.) Instead use the earlier version (also named 2.2 build 200!) which has a size of 10,582,776 bytes (or 10334 KB). You can find a copy of the earlier version at: http://www.itacainformatica.it/Download/Programmi/Windows/eBookReader/eBookReaderInstall.exe. If you already have installed the later version of this program, you'll have to uninstall it and remove the DATA folder before installing the earlier version. Then verify your installation with a free e-book from amazon.com." This no longer works, since Adobe changed their certification server to block it.
Bryan Guignard's whitepaper on PDF Security "explains what the ElcomSoft tools can and cannot do, and takes a brief look at the PDF specification to uncover the fundamental flaw in PDF security." Also available in Postscript.
"Boycott Adobe" graphic from the now defunct
www.boycottadobe.com web site.
US v. Sklyarov FAQ from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) will answer all your questions.
Planet eBook's page on the Adobe/Elcomsoft/Sklyarov controversy offers the most comprehensive coverage of the case.
Legal Disclaimer: "Adobe" is a registered trademark of Adobe Systems, Inc..